Founded in 1993 by Mary Vingoe, Gay Hauser and playwright Wendy Lill, Eastern Front Theatre was a collaboration of nationally recognized talent. Mary Vingoe brought to the company a lengthy career in theatre, including her experience as a founder of two other innovative companies, Ship’s Company Theatre in Parrsboro and Nightwood Theatre in Toronto. Gay Hauser led the administration of Eastern Front for seven years, drawing on her wealth of experience gained over a thirty-year acting career. Wendy Lill has received numerous awards for her writing, including two ACTRA’s, a Golden Sheaf, three nominations for the Governor General’s Award, a Chalmers Award and a Gemini. Notable productions from the early years at Eastern Front include The Occupation of Heather Rose, The Glace Bay Miners Museum, Whylah Falls and Consecrated Ground. In 2002, Mary Vingoe left Eastern Front Theatre to establish the Magnetic North Theatre Festival. Gay Hauser became general manager at Live Art Dance Productions in Halifax. Eastern Front continues to enjoy the benefits of association with these exceptional theatre artists.
Hans Böggild served as Artistic Producer from 2002 to 2006. During his tenure Hans brought numerous new works by Atlantic Canadian theatre artists to the stage and expanded Eastern Front Theatre’s audience. He had a direct hand in developing many of the company’s hit productions includingPortia White – First You Dream by Lance Woolaver, The Satchmo’ Suite by Böggild and Doug Innis and BUMP! by Richard Merrill.
In September 2006, Scott Burke assumed the role of Artistic Producer and Festival Curator. An award-winning director, playwright and producer, for Eastern Front he wrote and directed Fall in Paris, and directed Canada’s Songbird, Singalong Jubilee, Stan Rogers – A Matter of Heart, Dear Santaand Vimy. Scott is a founding member of In Good Company, whose production of God’s Middle Name (Merritt Awards for Outstanding Production and Outstanding New Play) toured Canada and has twice been a finalist for the Lieutenant Governor’s Masterworks Award. From 2003 to 2005 Scott served as the Artistic Director of Theatre New Brunswick. From 1998 to 2003 he was the Artistic Producer of the Ship’s Company Theatre, where he wrote and directed The Parrsboro Boxing Club (Merritt Award for Outstanding New Play) and Chairmaker the Musical (five Merritt Award nominations including Best New Play, Best Director); and directed Mary’s Wedding (Merritt Awards for Best Production, Best Director, Best Lighting Design); The Last Tasmanian; Miles From Home; Sole Survivors and Apple Tree Road. At Neptune Theatre Scott directed Kilt. Other credits encompass a wide variety of genres from Shakespeare to vaudeville, comedy troupes to new play development. Administratively, Scott is responsible for the revitalization of Ship’s Company Theatre and played a leading role in the conception and development of the New Theatre Facility. Scott has a BA from the Dalhousie University Professional Actor Training Program and an MFA in Theatre Direction from Penn State University where he was recently awarded their 2009 College of Arts and Architecture Alumni Award in Theatre.
Eastern Front Theatre was the resident professional theatre company at the Alderney Landing Theatre in Dartmouth from 1999 to 2009. Prior to that, productions were staged in various locations such as the Neptune Studio Theatre, the Sir James Dunn Theatre of Dalhousie University and the Alderney Gate Library.
Eastern Front Theatre has produced a number of world premieres, which have gone on to be performed across Canada. Producing new work by Atlantic Canadian playwrights is the company’s creative focus and perhaps its most important legacy.
In 2009 Eastern Front Theatre embarked on a relocation strategy from Dartmouth, instead presenting work at both traditional and non-traditional performance venues on the Halifax peninsula. The move back across the harbour is part of a larger plan to become accessible to a greater audience and to work more closely with our venued colleagues in Halifax. By relinquishing the responsibilities and limitations that came with our former venue we are better able to concentrate on the development of our region’s theatre artists and their work.
Charlie Rhindress became Artistic Producer of Eastern Front Theatre in October of 2011 as the company was relocating to Halifax from its home in Dartmouth.
Charlie’s time with Eastern Front was marked by a spirit of collaboration. Upon moving to Halifax the company immediately established a strong relationship with Neptune Theatre; renting office space from them, making the Scotiabank Studio Theatre Eastern Front’s permanent home and co-producing two shows as part of Neptune's studio series.
As part of its regular season, Eastern Front also presented new work from 2b theatre and reWork Productions and co-produced the premieres of Mary Vingoe’s Refuge and Wendy Lill’s Messenger with HomeFirst Productions as well a remount of Don Hannah’s The Cave Painter with Blue Munday Productions. These last three productions all garnered a number of Merritt award nominations with Refuge being nominated for a Nova Scotia Masterwork Award.
Charlie was responsible for changing Eastern Front’s annual Spring Festival of Theatre from The SuperNova Theatre Festival to Stages.
The mandate of the re-imagined festival was to present work at different stages of development, from artists at different stages in their careers, on different stages throughout the city. Stages also had a new commitment to present shows that were created by Atlantic Canadian artists or told Atlantic Canadian stories.
Stages presented the premieres of a number of new plays which went on to further productions and tours including Fishing by Jeremy Webb, Liz Richardson’s Going On, Daniel MacIvor’s Who Killed Spalding Gray?, Stranger to Hard Work from Cathy Jones and Let’s Try This Standing by Gillian Clarke.
Since 2013 Eastern Front has collaborated with Halifax Theatre for Young People to bring a family component to Stages called Next Stages, providing readings as well as fully staged productions of Theatre for Young Audiences.
Under Charlie’s leadership the company also hosted two artists in residence. Zuppa Theatre created their show Pop Up Love Party with Eastern Front, while MIchael Melski wrote his play, Creepy and Little Manson for the company.
Jeremy Webb became Artistic Producer (EFT's fifth) in November 2015.